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"Recycled" Garbage Bins Make Great Hay Feeders
When Cecil Whitehead, Margarettsville, North Carolina, heard North Hampton county was discontinuing its county-wide recycling collections and the used bins would be given to anyone who had a use for them, it didn't take him long to come up with a plan to recycle a few.
With a small cattle business, Whitehead wanted a less wasteful way to feed hay than round bale feeders or putting it on the ground.
"I'd tried several methods and was not satisfied with any of them," he says. "The biggest problems were the hay got wet and became a less desirable feed, and secondly, a lot of hay that cattle pulled out of the bales fell out of the rack and was stomped into the mud."
Whitehead has now turned two of the old recycling bins into hay feeding racks that he can move from site to site and, best of all, "there's very little wasted feed," he says.
The bins he converted are cubes that measure about 6 ft wide, 6 ft. from front to back, and are 78 in. high at the back, sloping to 48 in. at the front, with open tops. "They're really solid, made of 12 or 14 gauge steel on the sides, with heavier 10 gauge steel on the bottoms," he says.
His first step in making the hay feeders was to turn the bin on its front side and then square up what was now the bottom by adding an angle iron frame and covering it with sheet metal. With this, he extended the new bottom to about 70 in., so he has an 8-in. overhang at the top.
He built a 52 1/2-in. tall gate of 1 1/2-in. round steel pipe, cut and welded at the corners, that fits across what had been the open top of the box. Two feet up from the bottom of the gate, he added a crossbar of 1 1/2-in. pipe all the way across. The bottom 2 ft. of the gate is covered over with 2-in. sq. mesh, 5/16-in. wire panel that he welded in place.
Above the wire mesh, he divided the 6 ft. long gate into three headgates by putting in two upright pipes about 22 in. apart. He made hinges to mount the gate to the trash bin out of 1 by 1/2-in. heavy steel tubing. He welded the hinges to the bin so the gate closes flush and used bolts for hinge pins so it would swing freely. He made two gate latches from the same material to mount to the other side and uses steel pins to secure the gate when it's closed.
He wanted more than three animals to be able to eat from the feeder, so he cut three holes in what is now the 6-ft. long side opposite his gate (that had been the bottom of the bin) and one each in what had been the ends of the bin. That gave him openings for eight cattle. He used angle iron and pipe to frame the holes he cut in the solid steel, so there were no sharp edges to cut or scrape the animals.
To keep the feeders up off the ground, he mounted them on railroad ties. He uses a fork lift to move the feeders from site to site.
"I just swing the gate open and slide a big round bale in with the loader on my tractor's three-point hitch," he says. "It keeps all the hay inside and out of the weather, and the strings don't get strewn all over the pasture, either."
Both of the trash bin feeders he's made are identical, but he's going to make another from a bin with slightly different dimensions. He's also put two smaller bins together and mounted them on a wagon gear to make an enclosed, portable bin for whole cottonseed, which he uses to add protein to his cattle diet.
"Because the bins were available for nothing and I used scrap metal and wire mesh I already had, the hay racks cost me nothing but my time and welding supplies," he says.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Cecil Whitehead, Rt. 1, Box 85, Margarettsville, N. C. 27853 (ph 252 589-2061).

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2001 - Volume #25, Issue #5